Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’s (SVG) relations with Taiwan are “unbreakable” and will not be intimidated by “any powers,” the Caribbean islands’ prime minister said on Sunday following China’s military drills surrounding Taiwan.
SVG Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his delegation arrived in Taiwan for a six-day visit on Aug. 7, marking his 11th visit to the island as prime minister.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen touted the two island nations’ bilateral relations in her welcoming remarks and praised Gonsalves for his willingness to visit Taiwan at a time when Beijing is conducting live-fire drills around Taiwan.
“Prime Minister Gonsalves has expressed in recent days that the Chinese military drills would not prevent him from visiting friends in Taiwan. This statement left us deeply moved,” Tsai said.
Commitment, courage & loyalty: The virtues of @ComradeRalph were celebrated by Minister Wu alongside @iingwen during a 1st-class welcome at the Presidential Office. Our thanks to the PM for inking 2 treaties & an LOI deepening #Taiwan🇹🇼-#StVincentAndTheGrendaines🇻🇨 cooperation. pic.twitter.com/GN8fndj5Xb
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 8, 2022
Gonsalves said the bilateral relations between the Caribbean country and Taiwan are not “transactional” but rather based on people-to-people ties and “everlasting principles,” according to Tsai’s office.
“We are island nations,” he said. “We share common values of the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights.”
Gonsalves expressed “strong support” for Taiwan, saying that his country “will never allow any external activity” to impede their bilateral relations.
“As in our hemisphere, the Western hemisphere, we do not like it and we do not support it when any powerful neighbor seeks to intimidate or bully us,” he said. “Wherever there are differences, we must settle them peacefully in a civilized manner.”
The two allies signed bilateral agreements on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, the transfer of sentenced persons, and the letter of intent for higher education. Tsai also expressed her intention to work with SVG on post-pandemic challenges.
China Announces Fresh Military Drills
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that Taiwan is a breakaway province that must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary. Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949 and has never been under CCP control.
China announced fresh military drills on Monday in the seas and airspace around Taiwan—a day after the scheduled end of its largest ever exercises—in alleged retaliation against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan.
China’s Eastern Theater Command said it would conduct joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations, confirming the fears of some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would continue to maintain pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry condemned the move and demanded that Beijing stop its military actions and “pull back from the edge.”
“In the face of military intimidation created by China, Taiwan will not be afraid nor back down, and will more firmly defend its sovereignty, national security, and free and democratic way of life,” the ministry said.
The duration and precise location of the latest drills is not yet known, but Taiwan has already eased flight restrictions near the locations of the most recent Chinese military drills.
Reuters contributed to this report.